September 26, 2012

The end is near!

The end of the Competition season that is. I am still on the high from the US National Scottish Harp Championship at Ligonier Highland Games!  What a great comp – a huge pool of competitors, a well run competition, really close scores, a lovely venue, and I got to judge some incredible talent!  What more could you ask?!  Results will be in the next Kilt and Harp - so be sure you're a member!

There are only three competitions remaining this year.  I’d recommend them all.  Go cheer for your fellow harpers:

Virginia Celtic Gathering and Highland Games, Williamsburg, VA
6th October
Judge – Candyce Dunham
More information and register:
Stone Mountain Highland Games, Atlanta, GA
20th October
Judge – Kelly Stewart Brzozowski
More information:

Central Virginia Celtic Festival and Highland Games, Richmond, VA
21st October Richmond Raceway Complex
Judge – me!
More information

I wish I could be at all of these.  Please do patronize these competitions.  While Stone Mountain is venerable, Virginia is having a harp competition after a hiatus and Richmond is fighting to come back after a orgnizational disappointment last year. 

Of course, if you have questions, you can always contact me too.  I hope you have the opportunity to support these events!

September 19, 2012

A New ad-Ventura

I am truly an East Coast Girl.  I will never be a West Coaster.  However, that doesn't mean that I don't visit as often as possible - I love to visit the West Coast - and I do as often as possible. 

You might be an Eastie like me, who loves to visit the West Coast, or you could be a Westie who's looking for something-something fun - may I recommend the Seaside Highland Games in Ventura, CA?

You might be surprised - they don't have a harp competition so what am I going on about?

Well, if you have the opportunity, it would be worth your while - because Harp is making its inaugural debut at the Seaside Games this year -

The Harp Glen is being sponsored by the Clan Currie Society to introduce the Harp to visitors to this event. In addition to shedding light on the fabulous and rich history of the harp this event will showcase actual harps and harpers.

There will of course be harpers playing and more importantly, an opportunity for people to try and to learn.  Highlights of the two-day Harp Extravaganza include:

• Harp Ensemble performance
• Solo Harp Performances
• A Harp Ring/Circle
• Harp "Petting Zoo"
• Mini Harp Lessons

The Clan Currie Society, who is the Title Sponsor of the Scottish Harp Society of America's US National Scottish Harp Championship, is working with the Seaside Highland Games to showcase the harp at this Harp Gathering event.

I hope if you are able you'll support this new event - what a great time!

September 12, 2012

Never miss the opportunity...

Performing can be such a terrifying word.  We're never ready, the time's not right, the venue is too small to bother, the venue is too large to be comfortable, we always have excuses.

I know.  I hear the excuses too.  And for those of us who have other things competing for our time, like the work of our day jobs, it is all too easy - seductive even - to believe our excuses.  We think the lack of singular focus gives us an out. 

But when you do step up, when you give yourself permission to take the chance, when you take the opportunity, inevitably you get reminded of one of the most attractive things about performing with your instrument - people do listen - and you do touch them!

Michael Tilson Thomas said, "The most important thing about music is what happens when it stops, what remains with the listener, what they take away. A melody, rhythm, some understanding of another person or another culture. The way those experiences add up, in the soul of a person over the years....You want to shake people even when they're not listening to the music."   And he's right!

So, when you have the opportunity to share, and especially if you are offered the opportunity to play with someone else - do it!  Don't let your fear get in your way. 

And by the way, it's not about you.  Don't focus on how you're not good enough, or you haven't practiced enough, or you're not ready.  It's about them - focus on the person that you will touch, that person that you don't even know.  the person who, after hearing you will be brave enough to come up to you later and tell you how much they enjoyed it...and the person who loved it but didn't work up the courage to come tell you so.
Revel in knowing that that little piece of the music has gotten to in to the soul of the person - and that you've shaken that person even when they are not listen to your music.  And be glad that you haven't missed a fantastic opportunity.

September 5, 2012

2012 US National Scottish Harp Championship at Ligonier Highland Games

Come to Ligonier Saturday, September 22, 2012 for the
US National Scottish Harp Championship

The Scottish Harp Society of America's US National Scottish Harp Championship will be hosted at the Ligonier Highland Games outside Pittsburgh, PA and is open to all SHSA members. This year's judges are the renowned Sue Richards and me (!). Rules and categories are available on  For more information on the 2012 Championship, visit:

The day's Official Schedule of Competition -

8:30 am Onsite Registration/Sign-in
9am SHSA Nationals Competition begins

After the competition there will be Workshop/Harpers' Circle.

Special thanks to the Title Sponsor of the National Scottish Harp Championship of America - Clan Currie Society. The Clan has generously agreed to sponsor the National competition through 2014. It is especially rewarding to be supported by a clan with such an ancient and distinguished history of Gaelic poets and musicians.

Robert Currie, president of the Clan Currie Society, described this as partnership as a perfect fit, saying “The founders of our Clan were the celebrated MacMhuirich bards of Medieval Scotland and the instrument of the Bard was the clarsach." The MacMhuirichs served for over 700 years as professional poets to the Lords of the Isles and later to the MacDonalds of Clanranald among other prominent Highland clans and families.

Over the past several years Clan Currie has sharpened its focus on the arts and not only sponsors our competition, but also has established an annual harp scholarship at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, Scotland. To learn more about Clan Currie, go to:

Be sure to thank competition organizer Melanie Sandrock while you are registering, volunteering or audiencing!

Hope to see you there!